David Alexander was pinned as the new Assistant Chief of Police with Penascola Police Department. Being the assistant to Chief Chip W. Simmons. Officer Alexander is a native Pensacolian and is not just a police officer but extremely active within the community. So, we sat down with him in an interview to get his story.
PV: What made you want to become a police officer?
Alexander: My dad told me that when I was very small that I was destined to be a police officer and that I showed interest of being police officer in my childhood. I can remember at about 8 or 9 watching a policeman on traffic stops and different things. When I was old enough to get my learners permit, I met a police officer and he made a real impression on me even though he was a traffic officer that made an impression. When I went off to college, I was initially going to be a CPA. While at Morehouse College the Houston Police Department was recruiting; and on many occasions they would send black officers that were my age and I was able to relate to them. I really didn’t know a lot about the field I just knew you made a lot of money back then. I figured if they could do it so could I. When I would come home from college to visit, I would inquire about a position and there would be interested, but I was still in school. Once I came home from college I was able to pursue a position and was hired on as a cadet in 1983. I started out as a cadet and after about 11 months and been a police officer for about 30 years.
PV: What does this new position as the Assistant Chief of Police Intel? Alexander: A lot of the things that chief would have to do himself, such as handling a lot of crisis, I’m now able to do that. This position is also important because it is helping to build the relationship between the police department and the black community. Although I have been doing this before, this position basically makes it official. This position is also very important because it helps young people in the community know that they can also achieve this as a goal as well. This also shows that there are some real career opportunities and if you really want to see somethings change we need more African American men and women within the community getting involved in the police department as a career.
PV: How hard is for an African-American to become a police officer? Alexander: It’s not hard if you have given it some thought in your decisions. It’s not just in law enforcement it’s in every profession. My background and masters is Human Resources. When I talk to people from other professions, what they say the hardest thing to get is a qualified African-American that can pass a drug test or a background check. When we work with youth now we try to emphasizes to think more carefully about the decisions that are made because there are consequences to the actions. I normally hear young people say “I don’t care about that”, but in reality they do care. They do care if they are labeled as a habitual violent offender, because it hurts you when you’re trying to get into college, or a job, and now the military. The military has become very competitive. It’s no longer something that people can fall back on. The decisions that are made determine how hard it is to become anything now. I also want to say is that law enforcement is not for everybody. As a police officer, in my career, peer pressure is taken to a whole different level. There are expectations that people who look like and who don’t look like me have. I have to always understand what is right and commit myself to that. This may not always please everyone. However, if law enforcement isn’t for your there are other jobs that still need to be filled and if bad decision can make it hard to get those jobs too.
PV: I understand that you are also active in the community and a minister, how does that play a part with you being a police officer? Alexander: Well it’s a overlapping of areas. There are times when a badge and a gun is not going to solve the problem. Sometimes it may take you getting the job done either through your cooperation or your involvement. When an officer operate with the understand of things that are happening withing the community it makes it easier. People sometimes ask how I can you carry a cloth and carry a gun? I say very simply, the same way Peter carried a sword and God’s word. So, there’s a time and a place for everything. However, I’ve been blessed I have never had to use force to a point where it took someone’s life. It ever comes to that point where I have to take someone’s life, all I ask God is that I make sure it’s right. Nonetheless, law enforcement lose their lives on a daily basis. It’s not normally discussed, but year before last Florida was the top state for officers being killed in the line of duty. Which let you know that officers need ministering too as well. The community only hears the version that the media gives you, but there’s a lot more to what’s being said. Most people never see the officer that has experienced a bad event having to go and sit down and talk with someone, or trying to protect their family from things they have seen. Just like the community wants law enforcement to understand them, law enforcement want the community to do the same. The only way this can be done is if we come together and just talk.